Mercedes-Benz Actros celebrates 25 years as a pioneering leader in South Africa

From the bygone era of mechanical trucks to the dawn of the modern era of computerised trucks. Exactly 25 years ago, Mercedes-Benz Trucks, paved the way in the evolution of trucking in South Africa when it launched its first generation Actros - an industry-first computerized truck specifically for long-distance and distribution haulage.

Since then four more Actros generations have been produced from the Daimler Truck Southern Africa (DTSA) assembly plant in East London and have continued unblemished in a class of their own in the last quarter of a century. 

Throughout its history, the Mercedes-Benz Actros premium model series has delivered every aspect required of a long-distance truck at the highest level and has become one of the true success stories globally. Proving this notion, each Actros generation has won the title of “International Truck of the Year”. The accolade is bestowed by top commercial vehicle journalists from all around the globe to the truck that makes the biggest contribution towards road transport innovation, which is advantageous to the efficiency, emissions, safety, drivability, and comfort of vehicles.

Commenting on the 25th anniversary Maretha Gerber, Vice President: Sales & Marketing Daimler Truck Southern Africa: “We are gratified by the huge strides we have made as a trusted truck brand in the last quarter of a century. Not only does this milestone attest to our relentless efforts to produce the best-in-class trucks, but it is also a testament to our ongoing commitment to the region. Thank you to our customers, dealer partners, and employees for withstanding the test of time. We are excited about what lies ahead as the commercial vehicle industry progresses.” 

First generation Actros (1998 – 2004)

Since the invention of the Daimler Motor-Lastwagen by Gottlieb Daimler in 1896, widely recognized as the very first motorized truck in the world. Daimler Truck AG has been a pioneer in the commercial vehicle sector and is today one of the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturers. Following this historic move, the year 1996 marked a major turning point for Mercedes-Benz Trucks as it introduced its first generation of Actros in Europe, which quickly gained popularity as it was recognized as the International Truck of the Year in 1997.

The first generation Actros officially set foot in South Africa in 1998 as the first-ever computerized truck with innovative features such as the Electronically Controlled Air Brake System with Disc Brakes on both front and rear axles as well as the introduction of the Controller Area Network (CAN) Technology for the chassis and drivetrain. This year marked the start of a first-class and world-renowned model series, which to this day remains ahead of the curve in its market segment.

Second generation Actros (2004 – 2009) 

Subsequent to the introduction of the first generation, the Actros continued to meet the continually growing demands in long-distance and distribution haulage. In 2004, the second generation Actros made its debut in South Africa offering the first automated transmission as a standard option to customers.

This generation came loaded with industry-leading features such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist, and a new stowage concept which saw the second generation getting the nod from the industry as the International Truck of the Year 2004. 

Third generation Actros (2009 – 2018)

In 2009, the third generation Actros, with its fresh-looking yet powerful design took center stage in South Africa as the first truck that introduced Fleetboard to customers, an in-house premium telematics system. The main benefits of the Fleetboard system are optimized fuel consumption, reduced wear and tear, and improved safety. All the information is at your fingertips with services such as Trip Records, Performance Analysis, Mapping, Reports, and 30-second tracking which ultimately contributes to added savings in the long run.

In that very same year, this generation Actros won the Guinness World Record as the most fuel-efficient 40-tonne truck in the world, making it synonymous with phenomenal performance capabilities and outstanding fuel economy. In addition it also won the International Truck of the Year 2009. Winning the accolade for the third time. 

Fourth generation Actros (2018 – 2020)

In 2018, a completely new Mercedes-Benz Actros from its predecessor hit South African soil, setting new standards for Road Efficiency, because efficiency is the sum of the details: Low Total Costs, Greater Safety, and Maximised Use. The fourth generation Actros came and took efficiency to a whole new dimension with the introduction of a Euro V emission engine variant for the first time. Globally, the fourth generation Actros was launched in 2012 and was recognised as the International Truck of the Year 2012.

In addition to Lane Keeping Assist, driver Airbag and Stability Control Assist, which were already standard on its predecessor, the fourth generation Actros further raised the safety benchmark with additional safety systems such as; Attention Assist, Active Brake Assist 4 (including Proximity Control Assist) as well as Roll Control Assist and Seat Belt Monitoring.

Fifth generation Actros (2020 to present)

The year 2020 marked an industry-defining era for the South African market, when Mercedes-Benz Trucks introduced its ground-breaking fifth generation Actros under the claim “Everyone talks, one delivers. The new Actros.” This is the first truck that took technology to the next level with the replacement of conventional main and wide-angled mirrors with MirrorCam, a camera system that plays a major role in safety and manoeuvrability.

Additionally, four more core innovations were taken into consideration for this generation which included amongst others: Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC), Multimedia Cockpit, Active Brake Assist 5, and Mercedes-Benz Uptime with Fleetboard services as a standard. In the same year, for the fifth time, the Mercedes-Benz Actros reigned supreme as it was crowned International Truck of the Year 2020, cementing its position once again as the most innovative and fuel-efficient truck in the world.

A massive congratulations to the Mercedes-Benz Trucks team for this significant trucking milestone, here’s to 25 more years of continual safety and innovation excellence in South Africa! 

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